Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Process of Elimination
My oldest sister Sally taught me how to take multiple choice tests when I was in junior high. “You don’t have to know the right answer,” she said. “You just have to eliminate the least likely choices.”
I got so good at it that in my junior year of high school, the school secretary announced over the intercom, “Lynn Griffith is the winner of the Betty Crocker Homemaker of America Award for Niobrara County High School.” My Home Ec friends chortled, since I had a reputation for burning bacon and producing cookies that spread out like wet manure.
The award was given based on the highest score on a test. You got it -- a multiple choice test. I didn’t know the correct answers so much as, by process of elimination, I figured out the wrong answers.
This is not a bad skill to take into my writing life, I’ve decided. Starting out in creative writing about seven years ago, I asked the question many beginning writers ask: What genre?
I still don’t have the answer because I’m still in the process of elimination. By taking classes and experimenting, I’m finding out a lot. So far, I’ve discovered that I am not much into collaborative writing projects and I resist following formulas, so screenplays are pretty much out (sorry Trai) – though I never say never.
By eliminating some areas, I funnel my energies into the ones that remain. Plus, I carry with me tools and lessons from each genre that I explore. Screenwriting was huge in helping me learn to craft scenes and dialogue, and to reign in my wandering narrative.
I doubt I will ever narrow my choices down to a single answer. Good thing there is almost always the “D: All of the above” choice.
What have you learned about your writing path through the process of elimination?